tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 3, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT
i have a lifetime of experience. so i know how important at i rocky mountain high! let's play "hardball"! ♪ good evening. i'm chris mathews at the university of denver with a big debate. let me start with the debate. which of these two guys romney or obama can make the biggest gaffe, who can launch the deadliest zinger? that's the word romney's people. is this the dean martin rose to don rickles, is that the part we're casting here? sorry. i thought it was president of the united states. the person who will lead the
west, lift this country up from long economic struggle, take us to a stronger, fair american future. i'm looking for the big thought tonight, the fresh, crisp, candid thinking that is the very essence of any set of solutions we can come up with. a fear a sling shot war, pestering salvos, crating bites for the next tv ads, words to be packaged and pitched out to us as examples of spontaneous vision and uncanny wisdom. i'm looking for the real thing. smart calls to action by someone who knows his number one job is simply to tell us what needs to be done. i'm joined by former white house press sect dedee dee myers and howard fineman. >> assume you're mitt romney and you have had a terrible summer, september and august, all the way through. you boopted it in london, you booted it over libya, you haven't looked presidential and
bill clinton comes in, makes the democratic party look fabulous, the economy look really good. how do you fix that in one night? >> that's what mitt romney has to begin trying to do. this is it for mitt. that was the lead of my piece in "the huffington post," words of one sill belabel. this is it for mitt. >> it rhymes. >> he has to change the conversation, and do what you said, which is express clear, big, convincing, humane and understandable thoughts about he, how he can be the better person to take the economy forward and take the country forward. he said he wanted this to be about the economy. the romney -- the obama people have jammed the radar, romney's rar for six months, ago? now romney has 60 million people out there. he has to look at the camera and say, this is in simple, clear terms is how i'm going to help you and how we're going to fix the economy. >> same question to you. the economy looks better than
romney does. that's the problem he faces. >> one of his biggest challenges tonight is to stand on that stage and convince people watching, something north of 60 million people will tune in, that he understands the lives and problems of average americans, ordinary americans, the people struggling to put food on the table. >> that would be a fraud, though, doesn't he? we've been watching this guy for weeks and months and months and years now, running for president. there's been no evidence he gets it. >> you know, that's my conclusion, but i think if he's going to truly reset this -- even to get a second look, i think he needs to be able to connect on a level that he hasn't done. >> that's what people say -- >> he's not occasionally -- >> i gave this guy a second look. >> i think if he has a strong performance, if he does talk about economy and big ideas and is able to show himself as a humane person -- >> but you say this -- >> anything with a -- >> you're a skeptic. >> i am. i think he will win on points because he stands on that -- >> he has said for many months. he said on that secret video that was released, wait until i
get on the stage with president obama. >> so here's -- >> this is what he has to do. he has to perform. >> he has to look more presidential than in london. he has to say the economy looks worse than it does right now. and the 47% comment he was caught making where he basically cashiered half of the country out of existence. will romney be hawned by that 47% comment? here's one of the best lines of the year, bill clinton, up in new hampshire, his old stomping grounds. here he is taking on romney. this guy is a killer these dies. let's watch clinton destroy romney. >> i couldn't believe the other day when -- when the president's opponents said that the 47% of the american people who don't pay income tax just want to hang around, be dependent on the government and, you know, we just had to wean them off of that. because they didn't want to pay income tax.
now, a guy with a tax account in the caymen islands is attacking other people for not wanting -- you have to give him credit, like i said. >> i love it when they put it together. when they put it together, this guy, bunch of bumz that don't want to pay the taxes and then a guy with a quarter billion dollars stuffing it offshore. bill clinton, your guy. you taught him, didn't you? >> i taught him everything he knows. no, he really has had a great moment of framing these questions. and of putting this into terms that ordinary voters can understand and relate to. framing the question -- >> i could understand him. i never thought of putting those two things together like that. the fact these bums don't want to pay tax and the richest guy in the world is avoiding tax. >> bill clinton has the best peripheral vision in the history of politics. he knows how to do it. clinton uses a sense of humor to do it, to make the other guy
seem like a complete hypocritical phoney. rather than say the guy is a hypocritical phoney, bill clinton builds the occasion like he's talking to the jury. that's what he did there. that's the obstacle that mitt romney has. the way people view mitt romney, in the nbc poll, they still basically have a negative view of the guy. he has to come out there and say, i know how to fix the economy on your behalf, even though people know his whole life has been dedicated to flipping corporates and doing the magic that he did that got him the caymen offshore account. and $100 million i.r.a., individual retirement account. >> he has to show -- >> how does a guy -- >> how does that help us? >> -- have a $100 million individual retirement account? >> one thing president clinton has done so successfully, he's not against wealth. he's just against hypocrisy, right? it's great -- he's for people doing well and he wants middle class people to do well. >> did you see a wildlife movie
where the cougar or lion gets the antelope finally and starts to eat them. they always do it kindly. that's how bill clinton does it. a number of new national polls out right now. a national journal poll found the race tied up. a national public radio has obama up by seven. these can't both be right. the latest nbc/wall street journal poll, always right, splits the voters. the new poll from nbc/wall street journal/telemundo, look at this, 50% spread, howard. >> this is a number -- >> this is the lead. >> this is a number that drives karl rove and -- >> the architect. >> the architect and most other republicans of the bush era completely crazy. >> because it was -- >> completely crazy because it's self-made. it's what mitt romney did to himself in the primaries, what the republicans did to
themselves in the primary. they know unless they get 35% minimum or so of the hispanic vote, they can't win the election. they're going to hope and pray that that 70% doesn't turn out because hispanic turnout is traditionally lower than the numbers indicate. if that percentage holds up, it makes it very, very difficult. in states like this one, in states like colorado, a swing state we're in, or nevada, or even north carolina and ohio, for the republicans to win. they are a minority of a minority demographically. that's what that number shows. >> we have nate silver's estimates today. he points out some fascinating thing. a very smart guy who writes for the new york times. he points out what's going on. he analyzed the polls coming in and going out of debates since 1969. he doesn't look at who won the bate. he looks at the polls before and after to see what happened in those debates. he found usually a small bounce coming out of the first debate
for the challenger, not the incumbent. also noted no candidate as far behind as romney at this point has never won. the challenger tend to get a modest bump because he's the new kid on the block and most people get to see him for the first time. number two, it's new england enough of a bump except in rare cases like kennedy, he pointed out reagan and -- >> reagan. >> most of the time it's not enough of a bump. basically we're looking at the final. >> what nate silver documents there in great detail mathematically is what the common sense thing of this is. mitt romney not only has to show up. he's got to hit it out of the park. and he's got to essentially try to -- >> does he know that? >> oh, yes, they know that. well, thaement's a very interes question, chris, they told me repeatedly they see this as a series of three encounters, three presidential and one vp.
i think they're kidding themselves -- >> do you think people will watch if he doesn't win tonight -- watch again? >> romney has to win and win big tonight. the mathematics that nate silver is talking about take over if he doesn't. >> don't we have the baseball playoffs to watch if this -- >> i think romney doesn't need a big win. he just has to change the dynamics. debate to a draw, standing on the stage, giving the voters a second look, we'll conclude he got monday than he needed than the president did. >> the same that i consider the cliche of the night, which i've been predicting for days now. i'm afraid you just voiced it. let me say it in the right anchorman manner. mitt romney did what he had to do tonight. that what we're going to have to live through? >> through the weekend. >> oh, god. >> i think he has to do more than just be equivalent on the stage. at this point mitt romney is still not well enough liked. he hasn't broken through with
the argument about what he's going to do that's so different about the economy in the future that he's irresistible as the choice. >> let's talk about the math. here in the rockies, i was thinking, they're trying to get the waitingen train over the mountain. that's what we're trying to do with this economy. here comes an outliar, i know a pass, that's romney. i've been through this territory. i can get you through this pass. the question s do we have to take the map before we tail after him? are we going to chase after romney unless he shows us the map? >> i think he does have to show us the map, show us more specifics because we don't know him. what we know of him we don't necessarily like or trust. you're not going to go over into the rockies and up into the snows with a person that you don't really know and trust. >> you'll end up -- >> romney's numbers are unequivocal on a personal level. more people dislike him than like him on a personal level. people will say, okay, we'll go if you show us the map. i think romney's been hurt the last several of months by his
lack of specificity about what he's going to do on taxes and spending. >> his big numbers is i'm going to cut taxes and stimulate the economy. but hes i'll pay for it by getting rid of huge deductions, homeowner deduction, charitable contribution, state and local tax, that's where all the money is. if he doesn't tell us that tonight, will the press attack him for not giving us the map? >> one of the things we've seen is voters are skeptical. he says, i'll cut tax rates by 20% across the board. it's revenue neutral. we can't tell you how it's revenue neutral, because as paul ryan said, it will take too long. >> will obama go after him, like kennedy did in '94? he'll say, mr. governor, that's what people want. >> we can't talk about the president's strategy. he has to stay cool. if jim lehrer doesn't do it, if the moderator doesn't do, it then the president may have to
step in, depending on how romney performs. but if romney doesn't really make the case strongly, the president doesn't necessarily have to jump on him. >> he can say at the end he didn't answer. >> he can say at the end he didn't answer the question. >> let lehrer try it. >> but i think the obama campaign is leery of being -- they need to be a little aggressive. they need to take -- >> what's the best defense? >> good offense. >> i would recommend the president. why did the cavalry leave the fort to fight the indians? do you know why? >> why. >> they're cavalry. thank you. coming up, we have a new scoreboard. not like in the old days but spinners will be there. let's watch the power of the tweeter, the twitter, what's going to happen? we'll have people talking about real life, in time, while it's actually happening telling us who's winning this thing and which candidate did a better job framing the argument, deflecting criticism. we'll look at body language, too. how they stand, what they look
like. caught on tape, running mate's edition yesterday. the tou"the huffington post" qu paul ryan as saying conservatives wanted 30%. that's going to be in the debate. running mates are causing some headaches for the presidential candidates. also, have i some questions of my own for the candidates. i'm going to ask michael steele and eugene robinson to fill in for obama and romney and let me ask my "hardball" questions. i'm urging you to do this tonight when it comes down to thinking big. this is "hardball" live from denver, the first presidential debate. welcome aboard! [ chuckles ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪
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who tell us who's winning? the small moves, the tics and subtext that reveals who's got the upper hand. here are moments from past debates that became the whole story. first that awkward moment in the third and final debate between george w. bush and al gore. let's watch this moment. >> it's not only what your philosophy and what's your position on issues. but can you get things done. and i believe i can. >> well, in 1992 in a debate conducted in a town hall format, president george bush, senior bush, was seen checking his watch, that showed impatience with the whole debate, fair or not. in 2008 john mccain betrayed his frustration when he referred to barack obama as "that one." let's listen. >> your bill on the floor of the senate, loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies and it was sponsored by busch and cheney. you know who voted for it?
might never know. that one. you know who voted against it? me. >> where did you come up with that phrase, that one? what will be the clues tonight to tell us in real time who's winning. ste steve kornacki, co-host of "the cycle." you start with your biggest clue. you've said already, i've seen on my screen, who's winning the definition, meaning who's defining the debate in their terms. how does that go? explain. >> romney has always wanted this race to be a referendum. he's made a mistake because people have of telegraphing their big question, do you want another four years like the last four years? if the president wants a strong comeback, he can pull the debate into what he's done the last few months, the ground of choice. who stands up for the middle class, who favors the few, build prosperity by strengthening the middle class, who believes in
trickle down. whoever wins that battle for defense is most likely to be the winner of the debate. >> steve, that brings up the question. he says, let's not go back to bush, could almost guarantee romney will then say, don't blame all our troubles on bush. and then you got that surrebuttal, final punch, oh, yeah how are you different from bush? something like that. >> right. there's been a pact in the republican party never to mention the name bush in public. to the extent romney has to talk about bush at all, that's a sign he's on the defensive, a sign he's losing. we continue to see this in polling right now. there's some political science that suggests obama's approval rating is higher than it should be because he's getting a certain benefit of the doubt because people still remember who was president in september 2008, remember where the economy was in january 2009 and giving them, like clinton did at the convention, willing to give obama a little more slack than they would be giving the normal president with 8% unemployment. >> what do you think is the thing to look for tonight? >> to me, you were getting at
this in the first segment, involves specificity. he know obama will show up and demand romney start providing details about, you want to cut taxes for everybody, deficit neutral, you say you'll deal with deductions and loopholes so let's talk about which deductions and loopholes. it's standard for the opponent to do that. is jim lehrer going to be there demanding and pressing for specific answers from romney that romney has refused to give in this campaign for obvious reasons because they would be politically poisonous if he gets into them. >> will jim lehrer hope the other guy will do it or will he see it as his primary responsibility as moderator because it's a free format. once you get two minutes each of these guys, it's up to somebody to say, okay, do it now, here's your time. i'll give you all the time you want. tell me how you're going to cut taxes. >> i think jim lehrer will press on this. i think he'll say what loopholes are you going to close? what tax benefits are you going to take away in?
what cuts are you going to make in thing like pell grants. i don't know exactly how he will do it but i think he'll press on that. he prides himself on being substantive, on understanding these issues, and feeling the purpose of a presidential debate is to get these guys out of their stump speeches and into a real conversation with each other and with the american people. >> well, that's what we all try to do in this business. i think everybody i know tries to do that. get the person off the memorized material, because we're so bored with that. we don't think it teaches anything. you had a point about behavior, body language and smiling. i was taken with your idea that you smile too much, it looks like a smirk. have you to hold your smile to what's funny, how about that use of the smile, when something's really funny? >> the smile -- look, there's this is no problem for the president. he's a natural at this. he can just be himself. it is a problem for romney. if you go back and look at romney's acceptance speech, they obviously told him to smile, make yourself look warm. and after a while, it got very annoying. it looked very unnatural. he often looks like he's smirking. what romney has to do tonight is
become accessible without looking contrived. i think that may be very difficult for him because he's going to stick to a very memorized script. they told him, i suspect, please don't say anything spontaneous because if you do, if you say the first thing that pops into your head, it's probably the wrong thing to come out of your mouth. >> i bet you $10,000 he doesn't do it. what do you think? that was a joke. you can smile. let me -- >> i did! >> what's your thoughts? >> mine plays off of that. i think romney's very good in these debate settings carrying out prescripted attacks. sticking to the script, he can be very effective. >> who can't? you're reading somebody else's script. who can't be? >> there's a common trait among people who have run against mitt romney, democrat and republican. >> they don't like him. >> they don't like him. mccain, by all indications, obama. >> that's why mccain picked hallen, he couldn't stand romney. >> if romney is good at carrying
out these attacks, and obama brilss at his criticism, is it easy for romney to get under his skin? obama said to hillary clinton, you're likeable enough, hillary. >> was that smugness or -- he did it spontaneously. i agree, it was terrible. >> can romney knock him off his game by getting under his skin. >> what would drive obama crazy? >> these broad stroke indictments of the last four years -- >> bob, it's something truly serious tonight, it could get ugly. we're hearing all this stuff leaking from the romney camp how he's going to hit him on dishonesty. i don't know how somebody stands on a platform and let them go across with broadsides about integrity being dishonesty. how does he deal with it, if it comes? >> he just answers it honestly. he's come a long way since that debate where he told hillary clinton she was nice enough. he'll be very contained, very
self-controlled and i suspect very presidential. my guess is that's part of the whole preparation process the president's gone through. he's not going to let mitt romney get under his skin because he's very conscience of the fact that that would represent a victory for romney. that would become the story of the debate, much as al gore's size became the story of the 2000 debate. >> the bridge of size. thank you. thank you very much. as we go to break, new poll numbers from our nbc news/wall street journal poll. in florida president obama has a one-point lead over mitt romney. 46/47. in virginia the president's lead is two, 48-46. in ohio the president is up 51-43, eight points. we'll be back with more from denver and our coverage of the first presidential debate.
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we're out here in perfect rocky mountain fall weather. we have some people to ask questions of the candidates. maybe they'll hear them right now. a question for who? >> i have a question for both candidates. how will you assure that all americans will have access to affordable health care, especially those battling cancer and other serious diseases? >> thank you. sir? >> for president -- or, rather, for governor romney i'd ask, if you're going to repeal and replace obama care, what are you going to replace it with? >> well said. your thoughts? who's it for -- who's the question for? >> question for both candidates. i'm an archaeology student, i care about prehistory preservation, i want to know what candidates say about funding for the department of interior and park services,
specifically. >> you were the pioneers, the mascot. all right. what side are you on? >> obama. obama! >> you have a question for obama, you got all your answers. >> i have a question for obama and for romney. how are you going to manage the student debt crisis and make college and grad school affordable for all students? >> what's the student loan? >> grad students have lost the ability to have unsubsidized -- thank you -- unsubsidized loan so i'm paying a whole lot more out of pocket -- >> do you know what i paid for student loan? 3%. question for who? >> question for both candidates, about gun control. after this incident in aurora, we would like to know how we'll have more gun control. >> gabby gifford. >> i have a question for -- >> how are the sox doing? >> not too well.
>> one more painful day, i guess. >> exactly. i just have a question for mitt romney about the student loan debt. same issue, what do we do about the rising student loan debt? it's a big, big question. >> for both candidates, i want to know what to do to protect the environment from big corporates? green party. >> i have a question for romney, why not pro-life? >> he is pro-life. >> no, that women's abortions, taking away birth control -- >> oh, okay. pro-choice. >> sorry. >> those terms are shorthand anyway. >> i have a question for both candidates and i want to know what you're going to do for prisons, how to clear them out, how to lower costs that effect t affect the voters. >> do you have a question? >> i have a question for romney, gop platform states they have a moral obligation to uphold to
support women who are faced with unwanted pregnancies, so since he's going to be cutting programs and sending everything back to the states, and taniff is going to be hurting and we have a lot of women who look to that when they have unwanted pregnancies. who's going to do it? is he going to step up and pay the bill? >> a lot about women's health care and a lot about student loan. everybody going to vote here? that's great. we'll be back with more "hardball." well, if it isn't mr. margin.
mr. margin? don't be modest, bob. you found a better way to pack a bowling ball. that was ups. and who called ups? you did, bob. i just asked a question. it takes a long time to pack a bowling ball. the last guy pitched more ball packers. but you... you consulted ups. you found a better way. that's logistics. that's margin. find out what else ups knows. i'll do that. you're on a roll. that's funny. i wasn't being funny, bob. i know.
hewlett-packard cut 13% after they cut their 2013 earning forecast. oil prices slid to $88 a barrel, following lackluster data from china. employers added 162,000 jobs to payrolls last month. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. now back to "hardball." great crowd out there. by the way, a lot of interest in health care and a lot of interest in student loans and how expensive they're going. barack obama and mitt romney find themselves in the hot seat tonight but their vice presidents have also -- vice presidential candidate as well put them in the news across the country, on behalf of their candidates as they go cross-country and joe biden and
paul ryan face criticism from their opponents for troubles statements caught on tape. senator mark udall is a democrat, his home state of colorado, and malik ka henderson, political reporter, back there at the post. we in the business of journalism are too casual or cavalier about the term gaffe. sometimes somebody says something, they really mean it. it may cause trouble but it's not a gaffe because they believe it. we're going to talk about biden. let's take a look at vice president biden, he talks about republicans are seizing on a line in his remarks yesterday when he describes the difficulties facing the middle class and the current economy. let's take a look at what biden said. >> this is deadly earnest, man. this is deadly earnest. how they can justify, how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried the last four years. how in lord's name can they
justify raising their taxes? >> well, that created shortly after joe biden tweuttered thos words, mitt romney tweeted. and later in the day, paul ryan, his running made, referred to biden's remarks on the campaign trail thusly -- >> vice president biden said today the middle class over the last four years has been, quote, buried. we agree. that means we need to stop digging by electing mitt romney the next president of the united states. >> senator, this is the new politics. quick reaction, war room kind of politics. is it worthy of our attention? does it mean something when joe biden says buried when he means squeezed, the rich are making a fortune and the cost of living.
>> we know what he meant. the great recession of '08 put the final stamp on those policies. joe biden was saying, we need to continue supporting the middle class, building outwardly from the middle class and producing an american that's invested in the 21st century. it is tough, though. every day you get back and forth. some days i think we need more substance in our -- >> is this because we need a headline every day, these headlines that don't -- i agree, it's a good spitball opportunity for the republicans to say the economy's buried, middle class has been buried by president obama. that's not what he meant. he meant they're in a squeeze. should we quibble over words or that's just the nature of the beast. >> i think it's certainly the nature of the mitt romney campaign beast. i think this is the latest example. they had honest joe t shirts they rolled out with this comment and a picture of joe biden. you've seen this do this, take comments out of context and run with them. they did that with the "you
didn't build that" comment from president obama. i don't know how far it goes. it's a news cycle we find something to talk about every single day and it's hard to believe this will actually last. i do think something will come up in the debate, i imagine romney will quote joe biden saying the last four years haven't been so great, and ryan's 30% comment will come up tonight or debates in the coming weeks. >> my take on biden gaffes, they're no harm so, therefore, no foul. the republicans have been caught saying very serious stuff on tape they didn't want anybody to hear. these aren't mistakes in public. it's when you're caught you don't want anybody to know about except the chosen few who gave 50,000 bucks to hear you. here's a tape of paul ryan saying 30% of americans want a welfare base, they want to live off the hog, basically.
sounds like mitt romney's comments about 47%. >> today 70% of americans get more benefits from the federal government in dollar value than they pay back in taxes. so, you could argue we're already past that tipping point. the good news is, survey after survey, poll after poll, still shows that we are a center-right 70/30 country. 70% of americans want the american dream. they believe in the american idea. only 30% want the welfare state. what that tells us is, at least half of those people who are currently in that category are there not of their wish or their will. >> you know, i don't know what he's talking about. people on social security want to be alive. you get it when you're 65. that's the deal. what's the problem? he says, like -- like they didn't want to be there. they want to be alive. they want to collect their benefits.
he makes it sound like there's something really wrong getting a check from the government, makes you dependent when you may have worked from age 14 to 65, you get 15, 20 years you have good health, of benefits. that's the deal. that's not bad. why is he doing this? >> seems like they're doubling down again. romney with 47% and ryan with 30%. we're 100%. >> can you remember a time where a political party has carved out a huge part of the country saying we don't like you, we don't respect you, we want to get rid of you with the way you live. >> that's the impression they're leaving. president eisenhower didn't do that, president nixon didn't do that, president reagan made us feel like we were all in it together. >> i've never seen a politician say, i'll take the other part of the vote. i'm not interested in your half, or in this case, 70% he's giving away.
>> that's right. i have never heard such language. i think it will allow obama to extend the 47% argument to not only ryan but to the entire republican party. he can say, this is a party that slices and dices the american public. in some ways i think this argument about 30% of the people being lazy, 47% of the people being lazy, goes against the idea of american exceptionalism. how can america be that exceptional if 50% of the country is lazy? we know that's not true. america is an exceptional country. you'll see both romney and ryan struggle with this and have something to answer to tonight on stage and then when ryan takes the stage ultimately next week. but i do think ryan and biden do have something that neither of the principles have. that is, they speak from their gut. they speak from their hearts. and i think that's certainly -- it -- it rouses up the base. you see in biden somebody who can speak to biker chicks, to the naacp -- >> you know why?
nia, are you one of those people that doesn't have an underlying copy of atlas shrugged? they have underlined copies. it's about the elite holding up this work. that's what this guy ryan believes. that's -- rand paul, he's named after ian rand. it's a whole clack of these people believing the elite -- >> it's a great novel but not something -- >> i agree. i love the fact -- >> thank you, senator. and nia, good to see you. it's beautiful out here. the rocky mountains. up next, just answer the question. we'll tackle some questions that could come up in the debate tonight and get some answers. "hardball" live from denver. governor, if kitty dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death
penalty for the killer? >> no, i don't, bernard, i'm proposed the death penalty during all of my life. [ male announcer ] when these come together, and these come together, one thing you can depend on is that these will come together. delicious and wholesome. some combinations were just meant to be. tomato soup from campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. [ chuckles ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ male announcer ] now you'll know when to stop.
questions i want answered. with me now are two analysts, eugene robinson will play the role, or defend the role of president obama, and former rnc chair michael steele will defend the role or play the role of mitt romney tonight. let me ask you this question, mr. romney -- oh, no, mr. obama -- >> yeah, go to obama. >> you say, because you're a big friend of the teachers union, you're completely against school choice. how come you're sending your two beautiful daughters to private school? is beautifit just for the rich? >> let me answer -- i believe in schools that will prepare every young boy or girl for the 21st century. >> are you for school choice? >> i believe that that effort necessarily has to be centered in the public schools. the private schools are going to do their jobs. they're doing their jobs now. >> but no help to them up. don't want to give them any help? i know michael does because we agree on this. let me go to you because that answer i found --
>> you cut the funding -- >> -- adequate but only for a dae day. mr. steele, you say it's fair you a pay a lower tax rate than most americans, 13%. the top rate is 35% in your bracket. 35 for people in your tax bracket. tell the american people why that's fair, that you pay 13 for the tax reform that you let out and most people have to pace 35% top rate. >> well, in typical fashion, the liberal media has misled my record. so the reality is that i paid the 35% on that income when i earned it. i invested that income and then that money that i earned off of those investments, i paid what the cap gains rate is which is about 13%. the typical person out there making $50,000 a year, their effective rate, chris, if you know this, is about 5 to 7%. so i'm still paying more based on your argument. >> so money you make off of money, you only pay 13%.
so if you don't sweat, you don't pay that rate? >> it's the law. >> we're trying to decide what the law is and as president you get to -- >> congress get the numbers right. >> let me ask you about a foreign policy. we're having a lot of problems in afghanistan. vice president biden had a plan to switch from a counter insurgency plan and go toll an anti terrorism strategy. that limits our casualties and focuses on al qaeda. why didn't you do that, mr. president? it would have saved a lot of lives. >> that overstates the president's position. he's a very sophisticated analyst of that region. i'm filibustering here. but, then, if i were president obama i would say, look, the vice president and i agree that when we came to office, we were losing a war. we were losing it badly and losing it in a way that would
have been catastrophic for the region and would have made americans less safe. so i increased the troop presence there, stabilized the situation, got to a point where we would be able to withdraw. >> was biden right? >> biden was one of our advisers. he had input on our decision and -- >> in the fight over whether the fight in afghanistan and fighting a counter-insurgency campaign, were you wrong and was your vice president right? >> vice president biden understood very well the challenge of afghanistan and understood what we needed to do and what we need to do next. >> let's go to another war front. governor romney, you supported the vietnam war. you were demonstrating for the war. a couple million people went over there and fought that war. were their lives worth it but yours wasn't? why were you such a hawk as a student but never bothered to join up? >> well, chris, you know,
everyone had an opportunity to serve their country and at the time, you know, i had religious objections in one sense maybe. >> what were those? >> just from my own personal faith tradition. >> but you were for the war. >> yeah. but i'm just saying, my own personal view of it and supporting the national effort is two different things. >> where do you get a crazy religion like that? i've never heard of that religion. >> it's how you answer the question. >> that makes a lot of sense. i don't get shot. the other guy does but that's my religion. let's go back to you. what do you think is going to be the biggest fight? >> the biggest fight? boy, good question. i dobt know that there's going to be a fight. >> what are you going to actually do with all of these taxes? >> well, here's the thing about tonight. michael and i were talking about this tonight.
we don't know -- either of these guys could screw up tonight. and so we don't know that they are going to be -- there is going to be this correct debate and everybody is going to do what they ought to do. >> do you think they will stay careful? >> i think they are conscious and weary at first but either mitt romney or barack obama, just because of the people they are, either one is capable of giving that wrong body language, that wrong -- >> okay. i'd be nervous if i were romney if we're 15 minutes in and it seems boring, i'd begin to get nervous. >> i think you're right. in that moment he's got to make a decision, does he play that card to ramp it up or stay with the flow of how things are going? because if he stays with the flow of how things are going -- >> you know what i do, i throw the bomb. >> you do. but you have a good sense of people. >> right. >> and you interact -- you like inlt rablthing with people. >> yes, doi. >> neither of these men do.
>> how did you know that? >> you have just nailed it. these guys would rather not be here tonight. i think we're having more fun than anybody. thank you, michael steele and eugene robinson. when we return, let me finish with the outlook for the candidates tonight. you're watching "hardball" live from denver, the first presidential debate. this is america. we don't let frequent heartburn come between us and what we love. so if you're one of them people who gets heartburn and then treats day after day... block the acid with prilosec otc and don't get heartburn in the first place! [ male announcer ] one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn. we create easy to use, powerful trading tools for all. look at these streaming charts! they're totally customizable and they let you visualize what might happen next. that's genius! strategies, chains, positions.
motive. what is he out there, what does he want to do for president and who for? why does he think he should be president for this time in our history? and look for passion. the idea behind this country, help people deal with their really hard challenges? and what makes this guy laugh, makes him cry, makes him give a damn, beneath the nice shoes and ties, what is the spirit to this man and finally maybe the easiest to catch, and the hardest to forth, spontaneity. okay. the lights are on, is anybody home? does he come alive when faced with a challenge, a question he hadn't expected? does he love the challenge of serving and leading this country. and if he has a all, motive, passion, spontaneity, stop looking for a president. you found one. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with